Alternate Galaxies: Blake’s 7

January 2, 2018

Rob and Dave occasionally take a look at great TV series and movies they enjoy, broadly from the genres of sci-fi and fantasy.

They call these episodes, Alternate Galaxies.

In this episode, Rob cedes his seat to Richard, who has a far greater knowledge of today's topic... Blake's 7.

Today, January 2, 2018, marks 40 years since the transmission of the first Blake's 7 episode - The Way Back - in the UK.

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Blake's 7 is a British science fiction television series produced by the BBC. Four 13-episode series were broadcast on BBC1 between 1978 and 1981. It was created by Terry Nation, who also created the Daleks for the television series Doctor Who. The script editor was Chris Boucher. The main character, at least initially, was Roj Blake, played by Gareth Thomas. The series was inspired by various fictional media, including Robin Hood, Star Trek, Passage to Marseille, The Dirty Dozen, Brave New World and classic Western stories, as well as real-world political conflicts in South America and Israel.

Blake's 7 was popular from its first broadcast, watched by approximately 10 million in the UK and shown in 25 other countries. Although many tropes of space opera are present, such as spaceships, robots, galactic empires and aliens, its budget was inadequate for its interstellar theme. Critical responses have been varied; some reviewers praised the series for its dystopian themes, strong characterisation, ambiguous morality and pessimistic tone, as well as displaying an "enormous sense of fun", but others have criticised its production values, dialogue and perceived lack of originality, with broadcaster and critic Clive James describing it as "classically awful".

A limited range of Blake's 7 merchandise was issued, and books, magazines and annuals published. The BBC released music and sound effects from the series, and several companies made Blake's 7 toys and models. Four video compilations were released between 1985 and 1990, and the entire series was released in videocassette format starting 1991 and re-released during 1997, and as four DVD boxed sets between 2003 and 2006. The BBC produced two audio dramas during 1998 and 1999 that feature original cast members and broadcast by Radio 4. Although proposals for live-action and animated remakes have not been realised, Blake's 7 has been revived with two series of audio dramas, a comedic short film, and a series of fan-made audio plays.

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